Your Blue Ridge news update for April 16 — the day the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians became the first teams to wear uniform numbers, in 1929.

ASU STUDENT INJURED IN RAPPELLING ACCIDENT

Yet another climber has fallen this season – this time a 70-foot rappelling accident near the Wilson Creek area on the Little Lost Cove cliffs in Avery County.

The 21-year-old Appalachian State University student fell on Saturday, April 12, and dozens of volunteers from Avery and Burke County scrambled to reach the injured climber, who was reported by WSOCTV.com to have a shoulder and possible head injury.

The victim was carried a half mile by rescuers through the woods before reaching an ATV, which took him another mile down a narrow trail, and eventually evacuated by helicopter.

GSMA RECEIVES LARGEST CASH DONATION EVER

The Great Smoky Mountains Association announced last week that an anonymous donor has given the non-profit organization its largest cash donation ever, at $2.2 million.

“I have unprecedented news to share with you,” Executive Director Terry Maddox wrote in an email to the GSMA board of directors. “I was approached recently by a long-time GSMA member who wished to make a designated gift to GSMA.  The total amount of the donation is $2,185,000.”

Last month, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that GSMA would once again be collaberating with Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center to financially support construction of the new Collections Preservation Center in Townsend, Tenn., where the National Park Service will care for more than 144,000 artifacts, 220,000 archival records and 275 linear feet of library materials documenting the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and four other NPS areas in East Tennessee.

“This donation not only speaks to the genuine care people have for their Smoky Mountains, but also the trust and confidence we all have in our partners at GSMA to continue a 60-year tradition of supporting the park in meaningful ways well into the future,” said Pedro Ramos, superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

DNR ACQUIRES NEW LAND FOR WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

The Conservation Fund, in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, has purchased a 7.5-mile stretch of Cheat Canyon in an agreement finalized last week. This land includes a 3,800-acre, rim-to-rim tract of canyon stretching north from the outskirts of Albright to a portion of Sandy Creek.

The land will be transferred to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources over the next two years. It will become a wildlife management area focused primarily on rare species protection.

Nature Conservancy Helps Preserve Lowcountry Ecosystem

Just an hour north of Charleston, S.C., The Nature Conservancy has just secured a conservation easement on 600 acres of cypress bottoms known as The Narrows downstream of the SC 41 bridge.

It’s a critical area for biodiversity and includes about four miles of riverfront private land on both sides of the Black River. Almost 8,000 acres are now protected for the length of 10 riverfront miles.

This ecosystem serves as a major filter for tidal waters, is widely considered the heart of the tidal reach, and acts as a nursery for many wildlife species.

IOC CALLS SLOPESTYLE TOO DANGEROUS

The International Olympic Committee is questioning the safety of slopestyle  competition. In an interview with the Associated Press last week, IOC representative Lars Engebretson said the sport caused too many unnecessary injuries at the Sochi Winter Games.

Slopestyle, notable for sending skiiers and snowboarders jumping, flipping, twisting, and contorting their bodies over obstacles, has seen it’s fair share of criticism across the winter sports community. Shaun White withdrew from Olympic snowboard slopestyle just one day before the competition.